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Mike D’Antoni counting on Lakers defense until Steve Nash returns

Coach Mike D’Antoni is blunt about how the Lakers’ recent performance went against the Indiana Pacers.

“We’ve got to do better than 77 points, that’s ridiculous,” said D’Antoni. “What I’m a little discouraged about is, how do you score 77 points when you take 43 foul shots?  That’s hard to do.  You’ve got to be a pretty special team to be able to do that.”

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The Lakers have struggled much of the year with turnovers and missed free throws, starting the season 7-8.

“If it [had been] going good before, I wouldn’t be here,” laughed D’Antoni, who replaced Mike Brown after the Lakers opened the season 1-4.

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D’Antoni, perhaps more than anyone, is waiting for Steve Nash to return from a leg injury. Without him, the Lakers coach has lowered expectations.

“Our record won’t be as good. We’ve got to get him back,” said D’Antoni.  “His effect is going to be big. If we have these problems when he’s out there, then we need to sit down and examine some stuff.”

“Stuff” might be roster moves, but the Lakers are hoping Nash’s return will cut the turnovers down, add outside shooting and give the offense a greater purpose.

In the meantime, D’Antoni said the team will have to muscle out wins by playing defense.

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“Within the numbers there’s some good stuff, defensively mostly, that in the long haul will make us contenders,” he said. “In the short while our offense is anemic right now. It’s not very good.  The ball doesn’t move. We don’t do a lot of things we should be doing.”

Nash is expected to be the panacea, and if he can come back relatively quickly and return to full strength, he very well might be.

“I expect a lot of this stuff to go away,” said D’Antoni on Nash’s return.

It’s a lot to put on a 38-year-old point guard, but that’s where the Lakers are 15 games into the season.

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You can email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.


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